Thursday will be a bittersweet moment for me.
My Oldest will graduate high school and while I’m very proud of what she’s accomplished and can’t wait to see her grow into an extraordinary person, I’m kind of losing my sports and travel buddy.
She has ventured with me to various games of basketball, football, and some baseball and softball over the years.
She was still a toddler when I brought her to first game up at Cedarville. I parked her stroller next to the scorers’ table, made sure she was safe and she became hooked.
She even yelled at the ref during the game. He looked at us, and I wasn’t about to blame a little kid, so I turned around looked up in the stands as if I was looking for the perp. This tactic has saved me a few other times.
After attending a few junior high football games with me, the start of every basketball season, it was the same questions: “What games are you covering this year?” and “When is the Mountainburg-Cedarville game?”
We always strived to attend that one.
We developed a fondness for watching small-town ballgames and finding the best nachos at a game (not sure who won that one, but Mountainburg and Lavaca were pretty close).
She would comment about a girl’s hair.
“I wish I had curly hair like her’s.”
Me: “Maybe, but you’ll wish you had straight hair if you did.”
“You might be right, but I will like to have curly hair.”
I tried my best to teach her the nuance of the games and some its lingo.
Me: “This game is a real barn burner.”
“What does that mean?”
“A really intense, exciting game.”
“Sounds like something an old person would say.”
As if on cue, an older gentleman who was sitting in front of us turns around and says: “This is a heck of a barn burner!”
The Oldest gave me her “see, I told you” look.
I even got few complaints over the years via a third party about bringing my kids to games. It never deterred me from doing again. Two things, if I had to make a decision between covering a game or being with my kids, the kids would win. Second, if the person (or persons) didn’t have the wherewithal to say anything directly to me, it wasn’t worthy of my time or energy.
She played basketball until junior high. She enjoyed it, but it was never really her thing. She did help serve as a manager when she was in ninth grade and had fun with it, but other interests cropped up over the years. She went on a journey from medicine to accounting now she wants to teach middle school math.
She’ll be amazing at it.
She even got a job helping at Girls Inc. in Fort Smith and even ran the scoreboard or kept the scorebook during basketball and volleyball seasons. She also ran the concession stand a few times as well.
Over the past couple of years, we slowly got away from attending games together. She had her own thing to do. She had her friends and cousins she wanted to hang out with. She started doing more things with her little sister. (I suspect the Youngest will miss her even more than I will in the fall.)
Perhaps when she comes home during the Christmas break we might be able to go watch a game or two together. If not, yeah, I’ll miss those moments, but treasure the ones we had together.
Love you, kiddo. May the best of your past, be the worst of your future.